Today’s Juvenile Justice System, Essay example

Pages: 1

Words: 1977

Essay

Today’s Issues

Today’s criminal justice system varies by states but the trend is to try juvenile offenders of violent crimes as though they were adults.  Today’s youths are no longer treated as blameless adolescents as they were by the reformers.  This guarantees them their civil rights under the criminal court system, but subjects them to punishment and incarceration with adult criminals.  Since 1992, every state except Nebraska has made it easier to try juveniles as adults, and most states have legislated harsher sentencing for juveniles.  Many states limit judges’ discretion to try them as juveniles, sending all teens who commit serious offenses to adult courts, or allowing prosecutors to decide when to prosecute a child as an adult. (Cox, et al, 2007)

The guiding legislation that established the juvenile court system under which we currently operate is the 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.  The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act mandated that juvenile delinquents be freed from penal- type institutions whenever possible.  It requires that states holding juveniles inside adult prisons for statute offenses release them within two years (this time period has been modified over time). The act also provided federal grants to states for youth programs, based on their populations, and created the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). (Cox, et al, 2007)

The most current juvenile crime prevention trends are moving away from the “scared straight” tactics that were popular in the 1980s and 1990s.  Conservative slogans like “getting tough on crime,” or “adult time for adult crime” are finally losing face in the juvenile justice program.  The basic ideology surrounding these get-tough concepts centered on the idea that crime rates were high because young people were not afraid of facing juvenile detention under reformist conditions.  Consensus held that the system had become too soft; the threat of incarceration in youth facilities was not deterring youth from committing crimes. (Juvenile Justice FYI, 2008)

Prisons must treat all inmates including juveniles with an eye on human dignity.  It is important that all staff be trained with an emphasis on maintaining basic human dignity when incarcerating individuals regardless of their crimes.  Running an institution with an iron hand ignores the practical reality of maintaining order and security, which is ultimately much more vital than enforcing rules.  Rules should be regarded as tools to be used to reach behavioral objectives.  Everyone should be treated firmly but fairly with equal status according to security classification.  Everyone in minimum-security institutions should be treated the same.  Everyone in Level V or Level VI security institutions should be treated equally according to the rules in those institutions.

The role of correctional staff is not to punish – it is to enforce rules for all and to maintain order and security.  Protecting the public is the highest order of business but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of human dignity, even for the worst of criminals.

References

Cox, Stephen M., Allen, Jennifer M., Hanser, Robert D. and Conrad, John J., (2007) “Juvenile  Justice: A Guide to Theory, Policy and Practice,” Sixth Edition, Sage Publications, Inc., New York, NY, August 29.

Juvenile Justice FYI, (2008) “Juvenile delinquency prevention,” accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.juvenilejusticefyi.com/juvenile_delinquency_prevention.html#

Key Cases for Humane Treatment

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, has been a vital tool in protecting the rights of inmates, particularly juvenile offenders.  The increased use of solitary confinement has spawned many court cases over the use and limits of solitary confinement and the courts have consistently ruled that long-term isolation for mentally ill or immature convicts to be cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.  Such conditions can have severe psychological effects for everyone subjected to it. (Sieh, 2006)

Domestic cases in state courts have long established guidelines against the overuse of long-term isolation or other means of prisoner abuse. In the nineteenth century, most courts held to the “hands-off doctrine,” which implied that convicted prisoners had no civil rights because they had forfeited them when they committed their crimes.  Most courts would not interfere with the workings of prisons and jails because they believed such involvement would compromise the integrity of the separation of powers.  They didn’t want to intrude on the authority of the executive branch of governments to administer their prison systems. (Allen, et al. 2006)

Some recent cases involving the humane treatment of prisoners include Cajune v. Lake County – a recent settlement here ensures proper medical treatment for pregnant mothers in Montana. (Prison Law Office, 2012)

In Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections v. Yeskey the state court ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to incarcerated individuals.  (Prison Law Office, 2012)

In 1995, a California circuit court ruled that conditions at California’s “super-maximum” Pelican Bay Prison be monitored to eliminate the use of excessive force, improving health care and ensure that officials are removing prisoners with mental illness from the Security Housing Unit.  Pelican Bay is currently being monitored by a court-appointed special officer. (Prison Law Office, 2012)

The Geneva Conventions prohibit cruel and unusual punishment and requires humane treatment for all international prisoners of war or political prisoners.  Most states have their own laws that deal with humanitarian approaches to prisons and the provisions of the Geneva Conventions are mainly used for international issues.

References

Prison Law Office (2012) “Major Cases and Achievements,” San Quentin, CA, accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.prisonlaw.com/cases.html

Sieh, Edward W. (2006) “Community Corrections and Human Dignity;” Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, MA.

The Use of Private Prisons

Private prisons are a bad investment.  The lust for profit will likely compromise security and safety within these institutions.  Inadequate training for personnel working with prisoners is common in these types of facilities.  Private prisons are run for profit and the potential for abuse is much greater as administrators tirelessly work to cut costs within the system, causing reductions in vital areas of security and safety.  (ACLU, 2012)

The best way to reduce prison populations is to reduce recidivism.  Desistance is the state at which a convict gets to a permanent state of rejecting criminal behavior.  (Chen & Shapiro, 2004) A released convict will either recidivate or desists in criminal behavior.  It is thought that various interventions and sanctions will reduce recidivism.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, “of the 272,111 persons released from prisons in 15 States in 1994, an estimated 67.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years, 46.9% were reconvicted, and 25.4% resentenced to prison for a new crime. Sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime after their discharge from prison – 5.3 percent of sex offenders versus 1.3 percent of non-sex offenders.” (United States Department of Justice, 2009)

There is a relationship between the security level convicts are exposed to during their prison time and the recidivism rate after they are released.  The theory holds that security placement may influence recidivism but in a manner not predicted.  Higher security institutions are more punitive by nature and should decrease recidivism, yet research has shown that some people increase antisocial attitudes by being exposed to higher security inmates who likely have a higher propensity to commit crimes. (Chen & Shapiro, 2007)

Correctional boot camps with follow-up counseling have been shown to be effective toward rehabilitating youthful offenders, or at least in keeping them out of prison.  Drug rehabilitation programs have also shown promising results.  (MacKenzie, 2006)  It is likely that punitive institutions do not help in reducing recidivism and the more expensive and difficult treatment models offer less recidivism and treat people with more dignity. (Sieh, 2006)

References

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (2012) “Private Prisons,” accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/private-prisons

Chen, M.K. and Shapiro J.M. (2007) “Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A

Discontinuity-Based Approach;” American Law and Economics Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pp 1-29.

MacKenzie, Doris Layton, (2006) “Aftercare following a corrections boot camp may reduce recidivism;” Criminology and Public Policy, Volume 5, Issue 2, Pp 359 – 362.

Sieh, Edward W. (2006) “Community Corrections and Human Dignity;” Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, MA.

United States Department of Justice, (2009) “Corrections Statistics;” Bureau of Justice Statistics, accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/correct.htm

Ideology and History

Modern social institutions play a significant role in reducing adolescent and child crime without stripping juveniles of their rights and responsibilities by incarceration.  After school programs help children find things to do and places to go where they can avoid street life, particularly in the hours immediately after school when most parents are still at work and kids are most vulnerable.  Some model programs have assisted families by providing information on how to raise healthy kids by teaching kids about the effects of involvement with drugs, gangs, sex and weapons while developing their own self-worth.  Such programs give students discretion over what they will become involved with and offer hope and opportunities for youths. (Cox, et al, 2007)

Unlike the orphanage-style youth programs administered in the past, today’s recreational programs fill unsupervised after-school time with programs in sports, dancing, music, bowling, art, drama, karate or other healthy activities.  These programs interrupt the social disconnect many kids feel in their teenage years and allows them to become a part of their communities.

By stripping children of their civil and privacy rights and assuming that adolescents needed continual support and supervision, the early corrections reformers created an entirely new system for dealing with juvenile crime.  Criminal charges became petitions, arrests became summons, incarceration became detention, hearings became arraignments, and criminal behavior became juvenile delinquency.

In the past, the trend was for juvenile courts to give away jurisdiction to adult criminal courts, authorized easier transfers of juveniles into the adult criminal courts and even waived their authority over more serious crimes.  Consequently, more young people were sent to adult prisons.  States began to redefine children and more court decisions put juveniles into adult prisons and jails.  Young people were also issued longer prison sentences being tried as adults than they would have received in the juvenile court system even though most were not required to serve their full sentences. (Juvenile Justice FYI, 2008)

These harsher penalties and hard-time scare techniques were supposed to lower crime rates and to show juvenile delinquents that crime would not be tolerated.  These penalties failed to achieve their desired effects.  Fear proved to be an inadequate motivator toward positive behavior and no correlation was ever established between hard time sentencing and fewer first-time arrests and young people sentenced as adults actually showed a higher recidivism rate than juveniles sentenced to juvenile detentions. (Juvenile Justice FYI, 2008)

References

Cox, Stephen M., Allen, Jennifer M., Hanser, Robert D. and Conrad, John J., (2007) “Juvenile Justice: A Guide to Theory, Policy and Practice,” Sixth Edition, Sage Publications, Inc., New York, NY, August 29.

Juvenile Justice FYI, (2008) “Juvenile delinquency prevention,” accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.juvenilejusticefyi.com/juvenile_delinquency_prevention.html#

Bibliography

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (2012) “Private Prisons,” accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/private-prisons

Allen, Harry E., Latessa, Edward J., Ponder, Bruce S. and Simonsen, Clifford E.; (2006) “Corrections in America, 11th edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Chen, M.K. and Shapiro J.M. (2007) “Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A

Discontinuity-Based Approach;” American Law and Economics Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pp 1-29.

Cox, Stephen M., Allen, Jennifer M., Hanser, Robert D. and Conrad, John J., (2007) “Juvenile Justice: A Guide to Theory, Policy and Practice,” Sixth Edition, Sage Publications, Inc., New York, NY, August 29.

Juvenile Justice FYI, (2008) “Juvenile delinquency prevention,” accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.juvenilejusticefyi.com/juvenile_delinquency_prevention.html#

MacKenzie, Doris Layton, (2006) “Aftercare following a corrections boot camp may reduce recidivism;” Criminology and Public Policy, Volume 5, Issue 2, Pp 359 – 362.

Prison Law Office (2012) “Major Cases and Achievements,” San Quentin, CA, accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.prisonlaw.com/cases.html

Sieh, Edward W. (2006) “Community Corrections and Human Dignity;” Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, MA.

United States Department of Justice, (2009) “Corrections Statistics;” Bureau of Justice Statistics, accessed online on October 1, 2012 at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/correct.htm

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Essay Samples & Examples

Poetic Tools in Oliver’s “Singapore”, Essay Example

In the poem entitled “Singapore,” author Mary Oliver writes about a woman and contrasts the woman and her working environment to that of typical poetic [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 838

Essay

Understanding How to Deliver Positive Patient Outcomes, Essay Example

Abstract Examining the link between nursing and patient outcome has clearly established a link between effective nursing and positive patient outcomes. With the nursing profession [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1760

Essay

Singapore by Mary Oliver, Essay Example

Mary Oliver wrote the poem “Singapore.” It explores the relations between an actual event in her life and nature. The poem narrates the life of [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 562

Essay

Irish American Identity, Essay Example

Many people think that the history of the Irish in America began with the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. Food shortages in Ireland in the [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 638

Essay

Visual Depictions of a Dictatorship, Essay Example

The most effective dictatorships are those that pretend to be democracies.  Successful dictators like Napoleon and Stalin presented a fatherly public image that contradicted their [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 616

Essay

The Internet Erodes Human Communication, Essay Example

Descriptions of meliorism in Thomas Hardy’s ‘In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’. “My pessimism, if pessimism it be, does not involve that the world [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 819

Essay

Poetic Tools in Oliver’s “Singapore”, Essay Example

In the poem entitled “Singapore,” author Mary Oliver writes about a woman and contrasts the woman and her working environment to that of typical poetic [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 838

Essay

Understanding How to Deliver Positive Patient Outcomes, Essay Example

Abstract Examining the link between nursing and patient outcome has clearly established a link between effective nursing and positive patient outcomes. With the nursing profession [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1760

Essay

Singapore by Mary Oliver, Essay Example

Mary Oliver wrote the poem “Singapore.” It explores the relations between an actual event in her life and nature. The poem narrates the life of [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 562

Essay

Irish American Identity, Essay Example

Many people think that the history of the Irish in America began with the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. Food shortages in Ireland in the [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 638

Essay

Visual Depictions of a Dictatorship, Essay Example

The most effective dictatorships are those that pretend to be democracies.  Successful dictators like Napoleon and Stalin presented a fatherly public image that contradicted their [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 616

Essay

The Internet Erodes Human Communication, Essay Example

Descriptions of meliorism in Thomas Hardy’s ‘In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’. “My pessimism, if pessimism it be, does not involve that the world [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 819

Essay